Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday directed the state Department of Labor to issue a notice to hospitals to support safe staffing and continued organizing, following allegations of threatening and coercive behavior at Albany Medical Center ahead of a vote by registered nurses there to join the New York State Nurses Association.
The notice reminds hospitals that there are laws, both state and federal, and regulations governing union organizing efforts and that hospitals that illegally try to prevent or dissuade personnel from unionizing will be held accountable.
"New York is a union state, and we have zero tolerance for any attempts to illegally interfere in the fundamental right to join a union," Cuomo said in a statement issued by the Governor's Office. "At a time when organized labor is under attack, New York is stepping up for our union brothers and sisters and those seeking to organize—especially the nurses who serve our sick and elderly at hospitals across the state.
"Healthcare is a critical priority, and this administration will do everything we can to protect Medicaid State funding and quality patient care. I am proud to stand with the men and women in our hospitals and support safe staffing levels that ensure the highest quality of care."
On March 29, the governor directed the Department of Labor to launch an investigation into the allegations of threatening and coercive behavior at Albany Med. Early Saturday morning, the registered nurses at Albany Med voted to join the New York State Nurses Association.
On Thursday, Cuomo signed legislation to further strengthen the rights of working men and women in the state. This new law increases access to and protects union membership in New York's public-sector workplaces in anticipation of an adverse ruling in the pending Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME.
The top court heard arguments late this winter in Janus vs. AFSCME and is expected to issue a potentially far-reaching ruling in June on whether unions can force payment of agency fees, which are a substitute for dues paid by workers it represents and on whose behalf it negotiates, but who aren't formally members.